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The health cafe' concept is one where we discuss complicated health issues of a very serious nature in a very light and understandable language. The medical jargon often used by doctors do sound like Greek and Latin to many of us. Hear at the health cafe' it is our effort to detail, discuss and focus on these health issues in a very simple language and light cafe like atmosphere. The focus it to create an interactive platform where people at large could get authentic health related information at the click of a mouse from the true experts in the field. Hope you all enjoy reading the health cafe' and you are welcome to respond with your views and queries to our team who are every ready to help you out with your health care needs. THE HEALTH CAFE TEAM

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EECP Therapy - Non Surgical Heart Disease Therapy

EECP Therapy - Non Surgical Heart Disease Therapy
No Knifes, No Needles, No Surgery, No pain, Heart Disease Therapy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A bit of Crunchy Coolness and a whole lot more!

A bit of crunchy coolness and a whole lot more
Thinking of ways to beat the heat this summer? The cooling crunchy cucumber could be the ideal solution! This refreshingly wonderful vegetable with its unique flavor is one of the oldest cultivated crops and is believed to have originated in the plains of northern India. Currently, it’s the fourth most commonly grown vegetable in the world, after tomatoes, onions and cabbage. And the perfect cucumber is best harvested when it is tender and sweet, just short of reaching maturity.
Cucumbers are not just a wonderful way of replenishing water and electrolytes in your body, they are also a storehouse of essential vitamins and nutrients, so keep reading on to see what cucumbers have to offer us…
Cucumbers are amazingly low in calories, just 16 calories per cup, and have no sodium, fat or cholesterol to boot! The 3g of carbohydrates that come with a serving of cucumbers is just enough to give you a perk -without the side-effects of weighty issues! Aside from this, cucumbers are also rich in fiber content (when consumed unpeeled), which when combined with the 1g of protein in it, serves as a fat burner.
A single serving of cucumber will give you vitamins A, C, K, B1, B6, B9 as well as potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. However, it’s important to note that cucumbers do not contain large quantities of these vitamins and minerals. But a cup of this vegetable does provide you with small doses of nearly all essential vitamins and minerals. So what we are essentially saying is that though cucumbers aren’t nutritional rock stars, the fact remains that they are a great way of boosting your daily vitamin and nutritional intake.
Health Benefits Cucumbers are no longer considered just as a refreshing salad accoutrement, they have emerged as a bona fide tasty and healthy vegetable in their own right. Usually eaten along with other things, here are some reasons to honor the humble cucumber and elevate them to essential veggie status.
Cucumber for Eyes: They are used the world over as eye pads for treating dark under-eye circles or for refreshing tired eyes after a long days work. Cucumber also helps in reducing swelling around the eyes.• Cucumber for Skincare: Cucumbers are the proverbial magic wands when it comes to skin care. Due to its high water content and vitamins and minerals, cucumbers are an integral part of many skincare products, face packs and facials and can be used for skin tightening as well as cleansing; cucumber skin is a great antidote to caring for sunburns and windburns. • Cucumber for Anti-Aging: Cucumbers contain a great combination of anti-oxidants such as alpha-carotenes, beta-carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin C, zea-zanthin and lutein. These natural compounds act as protective scavengers -flushing out free oxygen radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are the villains in the aging process and other disease conditions.• Cucumbers for Hydration: Cucumbers have a water content of over 90% which is more nutritious than regular water; this makes it a great way of keeping the body hydrated and regulating the body temperature. It helps in flushing out harmful toxins from the body too.• Cucumbers as Diuretics: The water content of the cucumber acts as a diuretic and promotes the elimination of toxic waste products from the body through urination. It’s believed that regular intake of cucumbers can result in dissolving bladder or kidney stones.• Cucumbers for Blood Pressure: Cucumbers can be used for controlling both low and high blood pressure by virtue of their potassium and magnesium content. A cup of cucumber contains about 181mg of potassium and 16mcg of magnesium- both minerals are essential to controlling and reducing blood pressure. The potassium is a heart-friendly mineral and also reduces heart rates by countering the effects of sodium. • Cucumbers for Bone Strength: The high content of vitamin K in cucumbers has been found to play a potential role in controlling bone loss and increasing bone mass. A cup of cucumber can provide up to 17mcg of vitamin K.• Cucumber for Gout and Arthritis Relief: Blended cucumber and carrot juice are great in relieving pain caused by arthritis or gout, as they lower the uric acid levels. The rich vitamin A, B1, B6, C, D and K as well as calcium, magnesium and folates present in cucumber are responsible for this action. Cucumbers are also an excellent source of silica, which is well known for promoting connective tissue strengthening and improving general joint health. Those on the wrong side of 40’s, please take note.• Cucumber for Healthy Teeth and Gums: Cucumbers are a good source of crisp dietary fiber that is great for massaging gums and maintaining teeth hygiene. • Cucumber for Hair and Nails: The high silica content also helps prevent chipping and splitting of finger and toenails. The high silicon and sulfur content promote growth of beautiful healthy hair. • Cucumber for Digestion: The high water and dietary fiber content of cucumbers are very effective in throwing out toxins from the digestive system and aiding in digestion as well as constipation. Other digestive disorders like acidity, heartburn and even ulcers can be soothed by consuming cucumber juice.• Cucumber for Weight Loss: By virtue of its low calorie count as well as its high water content, cucumbers are an ideal food for those looking to lose a few unwanted kilos.• Cucumber for Tapeworms: With their rich content of vitamin E, cucumber seeds are a natural remedy for getting rid of tapeworms.• Cucumber for Cancer: Cucumbers are known to contain some amazing chemicals such as lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol; these three lignans have been proven repeatedly in numerous researches to be responsible for reducing cancer risks. These cancers include breast cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer.• Cucumber for Diabetes: Cucumbers have also been implicated in helping to control sugar levels in chronic diseases like diabetes. The juice contains a hormone–like chemical that is needed by the pancreas for producing insulin.
So adding a little cucumber to your daily diet can boost your health and increase your fat burning efforts in earnest, so go ahead and make your day!
For glowing skin
1. Peel and deseed cucumber.2. Add 4-5 mint leaves to it and puree.3. Add beaten egg white to the puree.4. Apply on face for 20 minutes before rinsing off…and witness a newer you with a glowing complexion!
Juice it, dice it
Though cucumbers are seen to have so many amazing benefits to the human body, you must keep in mind that these molecules are not present in such large quantities as to be of therapeutic value and be used in place of medications. However, that’s not reason enough not to indulge in cucumbers whenever possible and here are some great ideas on how to enjoy their health benefits:
1. Grind a cup of cucumber for a refreshing glass of juice; just add a dash of lime juice for additional flavor and enjoy your nutritious drink2. Dice cucumbers and onions and add to yogurt as a quick sandwich topper or a cooling raita to add to your meal.3. Try dicing cucumbers and melons with a dash of lime juice and mint leaves for a scrumptious summer salad!4. Or just cut them into sticks and enjoy as a snack.

Sugars: Some more Lethal than Others

Sugars-some more lethal than others http://healthcafe.in/focus.php?artid=296

Our bodies cannot do without sugar. One of the most basic units of energy that feeds our cells is glucose. That means we need glucose in order for our body to work. Glucose is a type of sugar. Cutting the sugars out o our diet completely might be a tall order for many of us. So the wisest thing to do may be to understand what are the healthy limits, and try to stick to that. Forty pounds of sugar per person per year, beyond what we get from the fruits and vegetables – was what the FDA stated was safe. That translates to 200 calories of ‘added sugars’ per day, which is almost the amount you get from one can of Coke. So if you want to keep to a healthy amount of sugar, and if you have  a soft drink, that means, no breads, no sauce, no additional fries or chips, no burgers, nothing that adds any more carbs whatsoever on the same day. Could you do that?
If you really want to stick to this and protect yourself and your family from diabetes, heart disease and obesity, this is what you have to do, says Dr.Lustig, childhood obesity expert.
1 Eliminate all sugared drinks – drink only water and milk.
2 Make sure you eat fiber with the carbohydrates you eat (if you eat only simple carbohydrates that are immediately broken down, it makes your glucose levels shoot up, resulting in more fat being stored. The fiber makes sure that the breakdown process is steadier)
3. Wait 20 minutes before you go for a second helping ( so your body gets time to discern if you are full or if you are having a metabolic malfunction or a craving.)
4. Increase physical activity (it’s improves your insulin sensitivity, and reduces stress- which diminishes your appetite.)
Here is a guide to understanding what the sugars that are commonly found in our food stuff really are:
Glucose: Also known as dextrose. A simple sugar that is metabolized by most every cell in the body. Also called blood sugar because it circulates in your blood. Most carbohydrates contain glucose. It is 20% less sweet than sugar.
Sucrose: The chemical name for granulated white table sugar; a mixture of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Sulfur dioxide is added before evaporation to bleach the sugar.
Fructose: Fruit sugar that occurs naturally in honey, dates, raisins, grapes, apples, etc. Nowadays fructose is mostly produced from corn syrup. Fructose is metabolized by the liver, and when more quantities are eaten quickly the liver becomes stressed and turns most of the fructose to fat. This increases triglycerides in the blood, which increases the risk of heart disease. Fructose also increases levels of uric acid in the body.
Granulated White Sugar: Also known as table sugar, or pure crystallized sucrose, made by processing raw sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: A combination of fructose and glucose made by processing corn syrup. Processing converts some of the corn syrup’s glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble. Possibly the worst kind of fructose, suspected to be one of the leading reasons for the diabetes and obesity epidemics worldwide.
Agave: The highly processed pulp of a desert-dwelling succulent plant. Agave is high in fructose, different brands range from 56-92% fructose. It is about 33 percent sweeter than sugar. Very high fructose.
     Brown Sugar: White sugar in disguise – this is refined white sugar with a bit of molasses added back into it. 

     Confectioners’ Sugar: Also called icing sugar, this is granulated white sugar ground into a fine powder, sometimes with a bit of cornstarch to keep it dry.

        Fruit Juice Concentrate: These are syrups high in fructose – made by heating fruit juices to remove their water, then treating with enzymes and filtering, then re-adding fruit flavors.
High Maltose Corn Syrup: A highly processed corn syrup with a high maltose content. Maltose is two bonded units of glucose. No fructose is present at all, and it is very easy for the body to break down. Our bodies create an enzyme, maltase that easily breaks down maltose into glucose.
Maltodextrin: A highly processed powdered sweetener enzymatically derived from any starch, resulting in a mixture of Glucose, Maltose, Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides. In the US, the starch is usually corn, rice or potato; in Europe, it is commonly wheat. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose.
The better ones Maple Syrup: Boiled down maple tree sap. Barely processed, pure maple syrup is a good source of minerals like manganese and zinc. Look at the label when you buy this – Grade B gives you more minerals than Grade A.
Demerara: Pressed sugar cane water evaporated, resulting in large and coarse crystals.
Lactose: Sugar that occurs naturally in milk. Derived from whey. Lactose is about 20% as sweet as sugar.
Honey: A mix of glucose, fructose and sucrose created from nectar made by bees. Honey usually has a fructose/glucose ratio similar to HFCS. Has other nutrients too.
Molasses: The thick, dark syrup that’s left over when sugar beets or sugar cane are processed into granulated sugar. Black strap is loaded with vitamins, minerals and trace elements naturally present in the sugar cane plant and is a good source of iron, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Jaggery: Is unrefined sugarcane or palm sap heated to 200 °C. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, up to 20% moisture, and the remainder is made up of other insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins and fibers. It is called Palm Sugar when made from the date palm or sugar date palm.
Coconut Palm Sugar: One of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market, organic coconut palm sugar is high nutritious. It has low levels of naturally occurring glucose and fructose, in addition to the presence of inulin (a zero glycemic prebiotic that aids digestive health.) 

     Muscovado: Unrefined. Made by pressing sugarcane and then cooking it slightly before allowing it to dry. Full of molasses and minerals.
Stevia : A sugarleaf. Stevia plants are dried and the water is taken out. 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero calories; but has a bitter aftertaste.
Artificial sugars
Aspartame: Sold under the names Equal, NutraSweet, AminoSweet. 100% artificial chemicals. This is the most used artificial sweetener in the world, many studies have been reporting adverse effects. Saccharin: Artificial sweetener that is basically a chemical called benzoic sulfilimine. It has effectively no food energy. Much sweeter than sucrose.

     So the next time you see a carbohydrate or a read the label of a processed food, take time to understand what you are putting into your body. Choose the healthier option and be aware of how much is in a serving.
Best option of all? Stick to traditional, home cooked food combinations – they seem to have it all complex carbs, healthy combinations as well as healthy sugars!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Transplants: A New lease on life

Reba Paul 
Organ transplantation is hailed as one of the greatest advances of modern science in this century, giving millions of people a new chance at life.

Organ transplantation was a confusing, even horrific prospect for people living a few centuries ago to ponder.  All of the ethical, moral issues that the concept brings up in many communities have been allayed over the past few decades, and transplants are now widely considered by doctors and the public alike to be the best medical option for many diseases. In cases involving end stage kidney failure, this is the only solution that can ensure the patient a good quality of life. Organ transplantation is hailed as one of the greatest advances of modern science in this century, giving millions of people a new chance at life.
Based on human physiology, the heart, kidneys, eyes, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine and the thymus can be transplanted. Tissues can also be transplanted – like bones, the cornea, skin, heart valves. In fact, musculoskeletal and corneal transplants are ten times more prevalent than organ transplants. In the organ transplant area, the kidneys are the most transplanted organs, followed by the liver and then the heart.

What does it entail?
Moving an organ from one body to another for the purpose of replacing the recipient’s damaged or absent organ, is a complicated endeavor. Previously it was a prerequisite that the donor and the recipient have matching or compatible blood groups. This is becoming increasingly flexible now, due to the new drugs in the market. Higher degrees of tissue compatibility are thought to help the success rate of the transplant. The first successful organ transplant happened when a kidney was transplanted between twin brothers in 1954. The main problem faced after a transplant is that the recipients’ body tries to get rid of the foreign organ.  Every body’s immune system clearly knows what belongs in the body and what is a foreign object. So after a new organ is transplanted, the immune system sees it as ‘foreign’ and keeps trying to get rid of it. This is what causes organ rejection. This problem is tackled by giving the recipient medicines that suppress this instinctive response of his immune system – these are called immunosuppressants.

Organ Donation
Any healthy adult who wishes to donate his organ is free to do so. Also, any healthy adult who wishes to bequeath his organs for transplantation after death can also do so. This is one way to positively impact the life of a fellow being even after your time on the planet is done. In case of a natural death, only a few organs can be ‘harvested’ – like the cornea, bone, skin and blood vessels. However, if a person is ‘brain dead’, then many more organs can be successfully harvested to benefit the life of other people – technically almost 37 different organs and tissues can be put to this worthy use.

The Indian Scenario
Generally speaking, chronic organ failure is still not being seen as the serious problem it really is. In India, thanks to improving mortality rates and disease management, most of the attention in the medical scenario is primarily focused on heart disease, diabetes and other such diseases. What we are failing to understand is that a huge chunk of the present population is going down the road that will inevitably lead to organ failure.
The rise in the incidence of organ failure globally has impacted India in many ways. At the time when transplants began to be commercially executed and were becoming popular, India had the rare combination of having trained transplant personnel, good medical facilities, a large impoverished population and lack of legal governance on organ transplantation. This made the country a quagmire of organ transplant activity from the late 1980s onwards. India got a lot of attention globally due to a multitude of reports regarding large-scale transplants being done with kidneys sourced from poor, illiterate donors under questionable circumstances. Following all the media criticism, the Government of India enacted the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA) banning payment for human organ donation.

The Loophole
Despite this, most of the transplants happening in the country are from live donors who get paid for giving their organs. This is due to a loophole in the Act, which says that a donor can give his organs ‘for the reason of affection or attachment towards the recipient or for any other special reason’.  It is estimated that India has approximately 3500–4000 kidney transplants and 150–200 liver transplants happening every year. The main source is live or unrelated donors.
India’s Human Organ Transplantation Act says that a father, mother, brother, or sister can donate organs to the patient. Other live donors go through a screening process by a state transplantation authorization committee to make sure that they are donating organs purely due to emotional attachment to the patient and not for monetary or material gain. The fact that there are so many live, unrelated donors providing organs for the majority of the transplants seem to point to the fact that there is collusion between the agents who source the donors and the authorization committee. Several ‘kidney rackets’ have been busted which have had doctors working with kidney agents to get donors. These donors would have documents fabricated regarding their relationship with the patient, and would be eventually sanctioned by the screening committee. The worst part is that since the whole process is illegal, after the various cuts are taken by the agents and others involved, the donor actually gets only a fraction the amount that the patient pays for the organ. But the question is, when such a huge need for organs exists, should we not have a better solution?
The Multi Organ Harvesting Aid Network Foundation (MOHAN)is a non-governmental organization that has, among many others, been campaigning for more cadaveric transplants. Doctors connected to this organization say that less than 600 cadaveric transplants have been performed in India since the THOA came into being. But the annual number of kidney transplants is over 2000. They point out that ‘there doesn’t have to be a shortage of cadaver organs in India- most relatives of brain dead persons are willing to donate, but there is no system in place in most hospitals to counsel relatives and harvest organs.’
The foundation has written to the health ministry requesting that the government take steps to promote cadaveric transplantation and also enforce stricter scrutiny of live, unrelated donors. They are still waiting for a response. Meanwhile, kidney and other organ rackets flourish in the country. Stray reports surface in the media regarding these from almost all major Indian cities, but no long term official solution seems to be in sight.

The cadaver donation solution
The urgency of the situation is due to the fact that the number of people who need a transplant to save their lives far outnumbers the number of live donors. The only viable solution we are left with is to promote cadaver transplants – which can be done only through people agreeing to donate their organs after death. Oddly enough, most public surveys show that organ donation has high support from the general public. The fact that this is not becoming a reality, is most probably due to the fact that after a patient dies, their relatives are either not aware of this, or are against it, and so the individual’s wishes are not carried out. Statistics say that as many as half of all families decline to donate the organs of their recently deceased loved ones.
In a country populated by more than 1 billion people, the pool for cadaver harvest is understandably high. But in India, the number of cadaver transplants is miniscule in comparison to live donation. Every year, almost 100,000 Indians suffer from kidney failure. Of these about 3,000 actually get a donor kidney, with a very small percentage being from cadavers. In the eight year span between 1995 and 2003, only 524 cadaver transplants were done. The critical shortage of available organs is only getting worse as more people succumb to kidney and liver failure.
The issue gets even more important as we consider that India has an ever increasing number of end stage liver failure patients. Patients who have kidney failure can be helped with therapies like dialysis. But liver failure has no such therapy, and transplant is the only solution. Of the majority of liver failure patients, only a handful get timely transplants that save their lives. The same is the issue with heart-lung transplants. Unlike the kidney, which a donor could give one and still survive well on the functioning of the remaining one, no one except a cadaver can donate his heart and lungs.

Cadaver Donor Program
It would not be an exaggeration to say that unless India develops a good cadaver donation program, we will remain right where we are now, with many of our citizens dying for lack of organs. This problem has to be addressed from the side of the government and policy makers, if any significant change is to take place.
Awareness has to be created about the existing problem, and the public has to be encouraged to be cadaver donors. The family unit has to be informed, and there has to be a way of ensuring that the individual who wishes to donate will have his wishes honored after his death. There should also be a practical and efficient organ retrieval mechanism that is implemented on a national level.
Well trained staff should be present in hospitals to educate and inform families about cadaver donation – in a way that this sensitive issue is handled impeccably without compromising on the optimum time for organ retrieval. One brain dead patient can help seven patients in critical stages, to lead normal lives. Another option to consider is that a national policy could be created whereby every patient in a hospital who becomes brain dead will have his organs harvested, unless otherwise clearly specified to hospital authorities. This way more organs can be made available for the living. Infrastructure should be created for harvesting, storing, biochemical work that will facilitate the best organ-recipient match. Organ donation is possibly the last and most noble act that any human being could undertake; don’t make it so hard to do.

Paid Donation – No good for Donor?
A group of independent American researchers, who tracked down over 300 individuals who had sold a kidney in Chennai, India, found that:
•         The donors received far less money than what had been promised to them during the process of initial bargaining
•         Instead of improving, their family income declined by about one-third after donation, and the number of participants living below the poverty line increased by about 20%
•         75% of the participants who chose to sell their kidney to get out of debt, continued to be in debt
•         More than 95% of the sellers admitted that the desire to help a gravely ill patient with kidney disease was not a factor in their decision
•         Almost 90% of them reported significant decline in their health status
•         In many cases, women had been forced to donate against their wishes because the husbands needed money.
When asked what advice they would give to others thinking of selling a kidney, more than 80% said that they would not recommend such a step. The authors concluded that the Authorization Committee failed in its duty, shattering the myth that the money earned by selling an organ helps the donor to improve their financial standard and get a fresh start in life.

Iranian Model of Organ Donation
The Iranian model of transplants is seen as the one that is the most fair to the recipient as well as the donor. It is a state supported program – the compensation and regulation are done by the state. This program started functioning in 1988, and gives financial incentives to living donors who volunteer their organs. These living unrelated donors get a sum of money, without having to go through any middlemen. Anyone who needs a kidney gets it. However, there are regulations in place that ensure that transplant tourism does not get the benefit of this. So foreigners cannot have a renal transplant from an Iranian national in Iran, nor can they be a donor.
After this system was in place, renal transplants increased so much that by 1999, the waiting list was eliminated. Right now, there is no renal transplant waiting list in Iran. The advantage of this model is that many of the ethical issues surrounding live, unrelated donation are eliminated, since the donor is directly connecting to the government for his compensation. Also, he will not know who is going to get his kidney, since it going to an organ pool and given to the patient who is the best match for it.
All hospital expenses are also paid for by the government, so even poorer patients can afford to have a transplant. The transplants are only performed in government hospitals that are affiliated to universities. The transplantation teams, including the doctors, have no connection with identifying possible donors and no middlemen are involved.  More than 50% of Iranians who had end stage kidney failure are living with a functioning transplanted kidney. It is the only country that has successfully eliminated a transplant waiting list in this manner.

mail to rebekaah.paul@gmail.com the author of this article published in the Novemebr 2011 Issue of THE HEALTH CAFE'. Sign in for the health cafe newsletter for a complimentary annual e-subscription. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Appendix : Cut it or Keep it....

Is the appendix just a useless evolutionary vestige, or does it have a role to play in our health. New evidence suggests that it may be persisting in our systems for a purpose!
Case 1: My 40-year-old friend collapsed with a sudden abdominal pain one morning. With no prior warning, she came close to an absolute blackout. In minutes, the pain was gone completely. Nevertheless, she went to a hospital to get it checked out. Routine scans were done to check if her appendix was to blame, but the technician saw no problems with her ‘evolutionary vestige’. All through the morning, one thought kept coming back to mind. Her IUD was long past removal date – maybe that was to blame. The doctor she met later, however, insisted that she be admitted immediately for an appendectomy. She ventured that she felt totally fine, and that she would check with a gynecologist about the IUD first…the doctor immediately proposed that she could be admitted, have an appendectomy and also have the IUD removed by his wife, who was a gynecologist. Deeply troubled by that option, my friend insisted on going back home, despite dire predictions of doom by the doctor. The next day, she got the IUD removed, and has had no ailments since. She says, “I understand that the appendix is considered unnecessary…but it’s something that’s inside my body that wasn’t giving me any trouble! Why should he insist on removing it even when it is fine? I was being pushed to do a surgery that was totally unnecessary!”
Case 2: A patient comes into the hospital complaining of acute abdominal pain. The doctor diagnoses acute appendicitis and surgery is immediately scheduled. Later, the patient finds out that his appendix was on the verge of rupturing and that the timeliness of the operation had saved his life. “It was such unbelievable pain! I am so relieved that it could be solved by such a simple procedure – and thankfully we don’t need the appendix, so it’s not going to affect my life!”
Yes, it’s true that the appendix is considered a remnant of an evolutionary process by evolutionists. But is it a ‘useless’ mass of tissue in our body? The human body is a super-intelligent mechanism that harmoniously conducts millions of processes in every second. If something was really useless, why would the body still have it inside? Is it right of us to see the appendix and the tonsils so lightly – and choose to throw them out at the slightest provocation? Does it all come down to a comparative decision? Or does the appendix only function as a source of financial support for surgeons? Let’s find out.
The Unwanted Appendix
Till some time ago, science on the whole considered that the appendix was a part of us that the body missed out or forgot to discard when we evolved into homo sapiens. However, it has always been the focus of a lot of discussion and debate. It is understood that the appendix may have had a big role to play in the past, but after our bodies evolved to what they are now, their role diminished.
It has been widely considered that the appendix is a shrunken remainder of a large intestinal tube, from which our intestines evolved to their current state. Inside the body, the appendix is a small, finger-sized projection attached to the large intestine in the lower right area of the abdomen. It is usually between two to eight inches long. The appendix is longest in childhood and gradually shrinks through adult life.
Scientists’ view of the appendix is changing from what they believed in the past. A growing consensus is that the most likely function of the human appendix is as a part of the gastrointestinal immune system. Some opine that reasonable arguments exist for suspecting that the appendix may have a function in immunity as the appendix is highly vascular, is lymphoid-rich, and produces immune cells normally involved with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It’s also known to be a storehouse for the ‘good’ bacteria also.
Appendicitis is a painful inflammation of the appendix. The condition starts as a pain in the centre of the abdomen. It then travels to the lower right-hand side and gradually gets worse.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that usually requires urgent surgery to remove the appendix. If left untreated, the appendix can burst and cause potentially life-threatening infections. It’s not exactly clear what the causes of appendicitis are, although it’s thought to occur when something, usually a small piece of faeces, blocks the entrance of the appendix, causing it to swell.
Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your abdomen that may come and go. Within hours the pain travels to the lower right-hand side, where the appendix lies, and becomes constant and severe.
Pressing the appendix area, coughing or walking, may make the pain worse. You may lose your appetite, feel sick and suffer from constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting and high fever.
Go for Surgery
An inflamed appendix will most probably rupture if not removed. Rupturing spreads the infection throughout the abdomen, creating a potentially fatal situation.  In most cases, the appendix will have to be surgically removed. This is one of the most common operations and its success rate is excellent.
Surgery is most commonly performed as keyhole surgery (consisting of three small cuts). Open surgery (a single large cut over the appendix area) is usually carried out if the appendix has burst.
Are there any other ‘spare parts’ in the human body?
Male nipples
Men have nipples and mammary tissue which can be stimulated to produce milk. They can also get breast cancer.
Wisdom teeth
Early humans had an extra row of molars to help with the vast quantity of vegetable fibre they had to chew. Now, about 35% of the population does not develop wisdom teeth at all.
The remains of a tail lost long before man began to walk upright six million years ago.
Spare ribs
Humans have 12 ribs but about 8% of humans have an extra pair, as do chimps and gorillas. They live with that extra pair of ribs!
The appendix does have a use: Re-booting the gut
For generations medical orthodoxy has maintained that the appendix is useless, warranting attention only for its tendency to becomepainfully inflamed and requiring swift removal. But now the reputation of this unwanted little sac in the human gut has beenrehabilitated by a theory from a team of immunologists.
Scientists have found that the appendix acts as a “good safe house” for bacteria that are essential for healthy digestion. In effect, theappendix ‘re-boots’ the digestive system after a bout of amoebic dysentery or cholera or any case of extreme diarrhea that purges thegut.
This function has been made obsolete by modern, industrialised society; in dense populations, people pick up essential bacteria fromeach other, allowing gut organisms to re-grow without help from the appendix, the researchers said.
But in earlier times, when land were more sparsely populated and whole regions could be wiped out by an epidemic of cholera, theappendix provided survivors with a vital individual stockpile of suitable bacteria.
“The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria that populates the human digestive system,” said BillParker, a professor of surgery and one of the scientists responsible for establishing its status as a useful organ. “The location of theappendix, just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine, helps support the theory.”

New Ways To Battle The bulge

Thanks to changing lifestyles, poor eating habits and sedentary jobs, an increasing number of people are hitting the overweight mark. As a result, they are busy lightening their pockets in an effort to lighten their bodies and get rid of those unsightly bulges and flab. Plastic surgery is steadily becoming a way of life to a certain section of urban upper middle class individuals.
One of the most popular procedures for fat reduction is liposuction. However, its main drawback is that it is mostly done on patients who are only within five to ten pounds in excess of their ideal weight. This is where people start to look for a backup plan for getting rid of that unsightly fat! Would topical creams effectively remove or lessen specific fatty areas? Many non-prescription creams, lotions and pills declare that they will be absorbed into the layer of fat and make it vanish. You wish!
Getting rid of unwanted fat is a booming business, and naturally has numerous bogus solutions that ‘desperately seeking to lose weight’ people flock to. So, what is the world to do? Is there no other answer in sight? Something that’s non-invasive, nonsurgical, and less expensive, which would help to improve our thighs, abs and hips…
People looking for a safe procedure for liposuction…rejoice! You can now get rid of your fat without anesthesia risks, without invasive surgery! It’s called Ultrasound assisted Laser Fat Reduction, and is now available in India. The process has been developed and utilized in several countries all over the world as an alternative to conventional liposuction.
Like most plastic surgeries, the technique is continually changing, expanding, and improving each year.
The basic challenge of any fat reduction procedure is:
To remove the right amount of fat
To cause the least disturbance of neighboring tissue, such as blood vessels and connective tissue
To leave the person’s fluid balance undisturbed
To cause the least discomfort to both patient and  surgeon
As techniques have been refined, many ideas have emerged that have brought conventional liposuction closer to being safer, easier, less uncomfortable, and more effective. The marketing that goes on however, makes it harder for the consumer to distinguish truth from exaggeration.
The good news about Ultrasound Assisted Laser Liposuction is that such complications can be avoided. It causes less discomfort for the patient, both during the procedure and afterwards; decreases blood loss and can access larger areas. This new technology focuses on only the target fat cells in the body and essentially melts away the fat. The broken down fat cells are moved through the body through the body’s metabolic system and discarded naturally.
How it works:
The reason this is preferred by many is that there is more precision to the removal of fat, and it is non-invasive. Carefully calibrated energy is directed into the skin. The fat cells in our body absorb the ultrasound energy, whereas the other tissue around the fat deposits will reflect the ultrasound. This helps the surgeon to target the fat cells clearly, without posing a risk to the other tissue surrounding it. The fat is liquefied, and can be naturally expelled by the body, or is sometimes suctioned out with a small suctioning cannula.
This procedure works best in removing small to medium fat buildup – like behind the knees, around the neck or chin or arm fat. When larger areas are targeted, you will need to have some device invading your skin to suction out the larger amounts of fat being liquefied. This kind of a procedure can also be effectively used to remove deep seated tumors, which may be under many fat layers. The cost of the procedure will depend on how many sessions are required, how much fat has accumulated, you age etc.
So, thanks to advances in technology, you can lay your fears to rest. There are several back up plans available to get rid of the hideous results of our dietary indulgences. Of course, all this is possible only if we are ready to dig deep into our pockets, so weigh your options and decide what’s best for you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mobile mania To Be or not to Be?

Article by Reba Paul 
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The jury’s still out on whether mobile phones are dangerous to the human body. Firmly in the clutches of today’s mobile phone culture, we are at a point where we need to understand it better, and figure out how to use it in a way that minimizes possible harm.

It’s hardly been here two decades and we already can’t imagine life without it! Many people are mulling over whether they should continue using it extensively or curb usage. Needless to say, the question of doing away with the cell phone altogether will never arise. We have already crossed that point – they have become gadgets that most of us cannot do without – even though we’ve been hearing that radiation is bad for us. So all that’s left to be done is figure out how we can use it with least damage to ourselves.

Technically speaking, the ‘real’ killing that mobile phone use is responsible for, has mostly happened on the road – with drivers using the phone while driving, causing fatalities. Statistics say that drivers on the phone are four times more likely to crash their vehicles. Many countries have made it illegal to use mobile phones while driving – and killing someone else or yourself because you were using the phone on the road, is the greatest health hazard that this instrument poses.

Unfortunately, many suspect that this is not the only risk that this small handy instrument places upon the human race. Ever since the mobile phone has been in use, people have been voicing their concerns about the dangers that its electromagnetic radiation could bring. Of course, it would take us close scrutiny of a whole generation to really know the benefits and harm of any new thing. So we stand at a very interesting juncture – it could be terrible for us, but we love it too much, and it’s much too early to really tell. All we can do now is to take stock of what early studies are showing, and use our own guidance system to decide how we want to approach the issue individually.

We would like to believe that science has all the answers. Unfortunately, since the very foundation of science is that it pursues answers, most often it raises as many questions as the answers it provides. This is an inevitable part of the process of getting to the bottom of any truth.

Most of the larger studies about the harms of mobile phone radiation state that they have been unable to find a link between cell phone radiation and cancer. Interestingly, many of the studies have connections with phone companies themselves, so the skepticism regarding the findings is understandable. Many other smaller studies have been consistently showing that radiation seems to have harmful effects on life on the cellular level. This may be why major studies done on groups of adults using cell phones did not throw up any conclusive evidence. When damage is done in minor quantities on the cellular level, it takes a lot more time to cumulatively show up in the body. Most of the studies use words like ‘there are implications’ – which means that a link between DNA degeneration and radiation is suspected, but they are unable to state this conclusively. Here are some study findings:

•…. In 1995, in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, Henry Lai and Narenda P. Singh reported damaged DNA after two hours of microwave radiation at levels considered safe according to government standards.
•…. In December 2004, a study done across Europe called REFLEX, covered evidence from 12 collaborating laboratories. They found compelling evidence that there was DNA damage in cells in in-vitro cultures. These were exposed to 0.3 – 2 watts/kg. There were also indications of chromosome damage, changes in some genes and a higher rate of cell division.
•…. In Athens, a team studied the effects of radiation on fruit flies – and saw a reduction in the reproductive capacity of these little creatures when they were exposed to six minutes of 900 MHz for a period of five days.
•…. Studies suggest that rats exposed to microwaves similar to mobile phone radiation displayed breaks in their DNA. Mice exposed to radiation for eighteen months developed brain tumors.
•…. A study conducted at the University of Montpellier in France exposed 6000 chick embryos to radiation. They found that the heavily exposed chick eggs were five times less likely to survive than the control group. This raises questions about possible effects that excessive radiation could have on fetuses.
•…. In 2009, Australian research subjected in vitro samples of human sperm to radio-frequency radiation. They saw that sperm that were put under a higher absorption rate had a decrease in motility and vitality, had an increase in oxidative stress, and increased DNA fragmentation.
Studies also indicate that radiation interferes with the chemicals in the human body – inhibiting the production of melatonin, which in turn inhibits estrogen production, and could cause cancer. Most of these studies are yet to be ‘peer-reviewed’ but they have all been done by smaller, independent teams. Your own research will help you draw conclusions about their validity and honesty. These are all early indications that it may be harmful to overuse or over expose yourself to cell phone radiation.
Interestingly, the WHO has classified mobile phone radiation as being ‘possibly carcinogenic’ – saying that there could be ‘some risk’ and strongly advises additional research into the long-term dangers this could bring. So, we stand at a point where we have no hard evidence that cell phones cause cancer or other disease, but are increasingly getting evidence that they could. What’s most unnerving is that the radiation that could cause such harm is invisible – entering and leaving our bodies without us even knowing about it.
It’s not just our bodies that are impacted by the radiation changes through the handsets and the telecommunications towers. Scientists say that the towers could be responsible for disrupting the internal navigation systems of insects like bees. Over a period of time, this could cause a disruption in our food chain and the agriculture industry, since bees are responsible for a lot of pollination of crops.
Advocacy groups and concerned scientists and doctors have initiated many movements in the USA and Europe that urge lawmakers to reconsider how and where cell phone towers are located, and to revise policies about keeping schools, retirement homes and healthcare institutions free from this kind of radiation.
Until there is more conclusive evidence, it may be wise to adopt a ‘better safe than sorry’ policy on the almighty cell phone – especially in the case of children. Their smaller heads, thinner skulls and higher tissue conductivity, make them prone to absorbing more energy from a cell phone. There are some products on the market that say they can reduce the impact of mobile phone radiation. You could check these out and investigate the usefulness of these for yourself. If you feel that there is enough evidence to be wary of cell phone radiation, you can start changing things by limiting your phone usage starting today.

Help! I’m addicted to my Phone!

Here are some tips that decrease your radiation exposure:
• Limit the use of cell phones- keep calls short.
• Text instead of talking whenever you can.
• Wear an air tube headset (not regular wired headset). The regular wired headset has been found to intensify radiation into the ear canal – serving as an antenna, attracting electromagnetic frequencies from the surroundings.
• Do not put the cell phone in a pocket or a belt while in use or while it is on. The body tissue in the lower body area has good conductivity and absorbs radiation more quickly than the head. One study shows that men who wear cell phones near their groin could have their sperm count dropping by as much as 30%.
• After dialling, wait for the call to connect before placing the phone next to the ear.
• Do not use the cell phone in enclosed metal spaces such as vehicles or elevators, where devices may use more power to establish connection.
• Do not make a call when the signal strength is weak (1 bar or less), because stronger radiation is emitted by the phone.
• Purchase a phone with a low SAR. Most phones have a SAR level listed in its instruction manual. The SAR level is a way of measuring the quantity of RF energy that is absorbed by the body.
• Be a little old fashioned – use landlines.
• Keep cell phone off most of the time. Ask people to leave messages and then call them back from a landline.

Safety First!

1. A small chip-like cell phone microwave radiation protection device is available, which absorbs electromagnetic energy waves from your mobile phone, protecting the body from these emissions.
2.  Use your cell phone for emergencies, not long rambling conversations
3. DO NOT allow your children to use or play with mobile phones. Their bones are less dense than ours so they can be affected by radiation faster than an adult. Make it a rule that children use a cell phone only during emergencies.
4. Do not use your cell phone when you drive. This has been the cause of many fatal road accidents. If you absolutely HAVE to, use a hands free mobile car kit, so you can keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
5. Do not use the cell phone when you drive – for another reason than the previous –  when you are moving, your phone is constantly trying to get the best signal – which means that radiation is intensified!
6. Some companies have developed materials and gadgets that act as radiation shields, so check these out and if you are convinced, then use them.
7. Keep your phone out of the bedroom at night. This is the time when your pineal gland and other chemical processes are working to heal and rejuvenate your body. The worst thing you could do is place EM radiation at close quarters to your body at this time.

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The Health Cafe' - Team

The Heart that Isn’t

Cardiology could be on the verge of a revolutionary breakthrough – a mechanical device that works as well as a human heart is just around the corner! But would that make the recipient a semi-robot…?

For most people, the mention of ‘heart’ brings to mind the symbol of love – the famed and much loved cherry red symbol that bombards you on Valentine’s Day. This symbol of the heart is reportedly a representation of a 6th century B.C. aphrodisiac found in Africa.

In real life, the heart looks quite a bit different from its symbolic representation. Weighing in at about 5 ounces, the human heart beats roughly once per second – that’s roughly 2.5 billion times in a life time. On an average, it pumps 74 liters of blood every hour through the adult body.

Working constantly from the minute we take human form, with many additional stresses loaded onto it during our adult life, it’s no wonder the heart is usually the first of our organs to give out. Since human beings are not very good at changing their lifestyle to sustain healthy bodies or healthy hearts – doctors have been trying for more than four decades to develop an artificial device that can take over the pumping function of the heart. The search has been to develop a machine that does not wear out, break down or cause clots and infections.

The Artificial Heart

An artificial heart is a mechanical device that replaces the heart. Artificial hearts are typically used as a temporary device that works in your body till a real heart transplant is possible; or to permanently replace the heart in case transplantation is impossible. The first artificial heart was the Jarvik-7, designed by Robert Jarvik.

The first time an artificial heart was successfully transplanted into a human was in 1969 in Houston. This was to act as a bridge for a transplant.  The patient died later due to complications of an unrelated acute pulmonary infection following the heart transplant. In 2004, the FDA in the USA approved the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. Originally designed as a permanent replacement heart, it is currently approved as a bridge to human heart transplant. There have been more than 900 implants of the Total Artificial Heart, accounting for more than 210 patient years of life on this device.

Another device – the AbioCor has also been recently approved for use in severe biventricular end-stage heart disease patients, who are not eligible for heart transplant and have no other viable treatment options. As of April 2011, 14 patients had been implanted with the AbioCor, with one patient living for 512 days with the AbioCor. This device is fully implantable, meaning that there are no wires or tubes penetrating the skin, which mean there are less chances of infection.

Heart with No Beat Offers New Lease on Life

Of late, radical advances are being made, with Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier of the Texas Heart Institute announcing that they have developed a machine that can function as a heart. The device is a set of simple whirling rotors — which means people may soon get a heart that has no beat!
Inside the Institute’s animal research laboratory is an 8-month-old calf with a soft brown coat named Abigail. Cohn and Frazier removed Abigail’s heart and replaced it with two centrifugal pumps.”If you listen to her chest with a stethoscope, you wouldn’t hear a heartbeat,” says Cohn. “If you examined her arteries, there’s no pulse. If you hooked her up to an EKG, she’d be flat-lined.” But she is a fully active, healthy calf!

They took two medical implants known as’ ventricular assist devices’ and hooked them together. A ventricular assist device has a screw-like rotor of blades, which pushes the blood forward in a continuous flow. The doctors say the continuous-flow pump should last longer than other artificial hearts and cause fewer problems. That’s because each side has just one moving part: the constantly whirling rotor.

In Queensland’s University of Technology, a new counter-flow heart pump is being developed which is based on a double-output centrifugal model – it pushes the blood in such a way that correct flow happens through both sides of the heart. This means that the left and right sides of the heart are supported at the same time – much like a real heart! Lead researcher Associate Professor Andy Tan says “what’s so groundbreaking is that it is the first device to combine the function of two pumps into one unit.”

Finding a technology that can serve as a replacement heart is crucial – especially because the number of people suffering from heart failure is increasing and the numbers of heart donors are not rising. So the only way to reduce the number of deaths is to find another solution.

The stages of final design and patenting are yet to be negotiated before these devices reach the chest cavities of heart patients. The world will be watching to see how effective these devices are as a solution to replacing the human heart. And even if it does, will this mean that the person having it will be semi-robot? Will they lose out on feelings and emotions? All that remains to be seen, but we can be sure of one thing. If it does work, many artificial heart recipients will be thanking their surgeons, ‘from the bottom of their hearts’!

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